Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Amanda Jennings’ remarkable thriller, ‘In Her Wake’. I’d heard so many good things about this novel, and was definitely not disappointed! So, keep reading to find out more…
A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to suicide, mental and physical illness, and abuse (emotional and physical)
‘In Her Wake’ (released on 22nd March 2016) is Amanda Jennings’ third novel, following on from her debut ‘Sworn Secret’ (2012) and ‘The Judas Scar’ (2014). Jennings was born in London and studied History of Art at university, before working for the BBC and pursuing a career in writing. She now lives in Henley-On-Thames with her husband and three daughters.
‘In Her Wake’ was selected for WHSmith Fresh Talent 2016, and has received lots of positive praise. The Big Issue called it ‘Slick, smart storytelling with real heart’, Heat Magazine said ‘This mesmerising and haunting thriller is a true literary beauty’ and The Scottish Herald pinned it as ‘Heartbreaking and emotionally stunning’. Many fellow authors have also praised the book, such as Clare Mackintosh: ‘Hauntingly beautiful’, Tammy Cohen: ‘Enough twists and turns to give you whiplash’ and Jenny Blackhurst: ‘Simply exquisite’, to name but a few.
This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s mesmerising and addictive, and the story is truly epic. The narrative essentially follows Bella, who is told some devastating news upon her father’s death. She goes on a very personal journey to uncover all the mysteries of her family and her own identity, as life keeps throwing more and more problems her way. She ends up in Cornwall, as she pieces together exactly who she is and where she comes from.
I can now confidently call Bella one of my all-time favourite fictional characters. She has so many things thrown at her all at once, and quite rightly struggles to deal with the news that threatens to rip apart everything she thought she knew. She’s so strong and resilient, and even in the hardest of times she continues to fight. I would consider her one of my favourite fictional characters because she is so inspiring and is a true role model for me. My heart broke so many times whilst reading this and I deeply rooted for Bella, and I really related to her as a character.
I truly felt that each and every character in the novel was equally as important, and all brought something different to the novel. All are complex characters and are excellently-contructed. Bella’s husband David is controlling and over-protective, and Bella settles for the cosy life with him as it’s the easiest, but not necessarily the right, thing to do. Bella’s parents Henry and Elaine love each other dearly but are very troubled – Elaine is severely mentally ill, and Henry does all he can to make her happy. The Tremayne family are rightfully devastated by their loss, and struggle to adjust to the events that are happening in the present, and each have their own individual problems. All of the other characters in Cornwall are interesting and unique.
The narrative is mainly told in Bella’s perspective in the present-day, but there are flashbacks to Henry and Elaine’s past from 1983 to 2014. At the beginning, these flashbacks are slightly unclear – but the narrative builds and builds and both the past and the present begin to fit together. We follow Bella’s individual journey in the present-day, as she goes on to uncover who she really is.
The narrative motors onwards, and many new elements feed into the story. This is the kind of novel that you think you know where it’s going, but then Jennings throws a new revelation/problem into the mix and the narrative completely changes direction. There are so many twists and turns, and it’s practically impossible to predict what’s going to happen. There were so many moments whilst reading this that I just had to sit back and pause, in order to reflect on what had just happened. This is a novel full of suspense and mystery, secrets and lies, love and hate, trust and betrayal, and so much more. It truly explores the issues of self-identification and the nature of family, and how we cannot always trust those closest to home.
So, let’s talk about the ending. All the secrets and mysteries of the novel come to a head, and Bella finally discovers the truth. It’s shocking and astounding, and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in the most unexpected way. Everything suddenly becomes clear, and everything so far in the novel has been leading up to this important revelation. I was genuinely so surprised with how events turned out that my jaw physically dropped in shock. I was very satisfied with the ending and I’d absolutely love a sequel – I’d love to see what happens to Bella after the events of this novel!
This is a novel jam-packed full of everything I personally look for in a book. Brilliant characters, lots of twists and turns, suspense, a clever, intricate plot and a shocking ending. It explores issues of identity, mental health, death, bereavement, physical illness, betrayal, escape, and all sorts of different relationships. The only thing I will say is that it is pretty dark, so be prepared for that. It’s not an easy read by any means, and some of the topics addressed are quite difficult, meaning I gave this book 4.5 stars rather than 5. But it was SO almost perfect!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to all of you out there who love thrillers, particularly if you don’t mind heavier or darker reads. This is an important read, and it will truly make you stop and think. This novel stayed with me for weeks after reading it. This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while, and I’ll definitely be checking out Jennings’ other books. A remarkable read!
Happy reading 🙂